February 1, 1999
Contact: Rep. Felipe P. Abinsay, Jr.
Phone: (808) 586-6010


The House Committee on Agriculture has scheduled a hearing in Hilo on Friday, Feb. 5, 1999, to discuss the potential of industrial hemp as a new cash crop for Hawaii. The hearing will be held at the Crown Room of the Naniloa Hotel, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Rep. Felipe P. Abinsay, Jr. (Kalihi Waena-Moanalua-Kapalama), Agriculture Committee chair, said Hilo was chosen in part because House Bill 32, if adopted, requests the University of Hawaii-Hilo to obtain the necessary federal permits and conduct the initial research into the feasibility of growing and processing industrial hemp in Hawaii.

The plant, grown widely in several parts of the world, is a versatile material used in manufacturing building materials, for its oil, and in the production of bio-mass energy, Abinsay said. "It is important to understand that while the plant is closely related to the marijuana plant, it has only a miniscule amount of the drug contained in its illegal cousin."

Abinsay also noted that House leadership encourages community-based hearings where appropriate. "Speaker (Calvin) Say has been very supportive of efforts to bring government to people where they live. I believe that for House Bill 32, the Big Island is the proper venue to obtain the most comprehensive public testimony for the committee’s deliberation," he said.